After scoring two goals, including the overtime winner for the Boston Bruins in a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders to clinch the third seed in the East Division for the 2021 Stanley Playoffs, Bruins winger Taylor Hall went to bat for his former Buffalo Sabres teammate Jack Eichel and reflected on some ‘dark days’ in Buffalo.
When Hall, and forward Curtis Lazar, were acquired by the Bruins on April 11 before the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, he had two goals and 17 assists and was a minus -21 in 37 games. Since arriving in Boston, the 2010 No. 1 pick overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has eight goals and six assists in 16 games and is a plus 15. It’s been a complete 180 on the ice and mentally for Hall with the Bruins.
“There were some really dark days this year in Buffalo,” Hall acknowledged. “I haven’t really talked a lot about it but I didn’t play well. I don’t have anyone else to blame for that, for my play in Buffalo, for myself, it just didn’t work out. I came in prepared, I worked hard and for whatever reason, we just didn’t have it. We had a great group of guys; the chemistry in the locker room was great. When it was time to perform in the game, I didn’t do my job and I’m sure a lot of guys would say the same thing.”
Prior to the Bruins’ tilt with the Islanders, Jack Eichel expressed his frustration with not just another brutal season for the Sabres, but also the way team management handled the approach to his herniated disc in his neck. Eichel made it clear that there is no doubt that his future with the Sabres is in doubt and set social media abuzz with trade rumors.
“I’ve been a bit upset about the ways things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Jack Eichel said Monday morning. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. There’s been a bit of a disconnect between myself and the organization. It’s been tough at times. Right now, for me, the most important thing is just trying to get healthy, figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be.”
Jack Eichel was drafted by the Sabres second overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft behind Hart Trophy favorite and Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid. Eichel has unfortunately wallowed in purgatory with the Sabres while McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy twice, the Ted Lindsay Award twice, and is about to win his second Hart Trophy after winning his first in 2017. He’s also done another thing that Eichel hasn’t been able to do in six NHL seasons and the Sabres haven’t done in ten seasons: play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and while Eichel recounted another frustrating season in Buffalo, McDavid was preparing to play his final game of the 2021 regular season and then take his second shot at the Stanley Cup.
“I know Jack is frustrated,” Hall said of Jack Eichel Monday night. “Jack and I became really good friends during our time in Buffalo. I support him and I know he’s gone through some stuff with the medical staff there and ultimately Jack has to worry about himself. There’s teams that – just like he said – they’re going to worry about what’s best for them and Jack has to do what’s best for him, and I know he’s got an injury that he feels he can take care of with the surgery, and there’s a little bit of a disagreement but I support Jack and he was nothing but a great teammate and a really good friend when I played with him.”